Mind the Gap – The Discrepancy between the Normative Debate and the Actual Use of Human Rights Language in International Climate Negotiations

Beck, Gregor; Ditzel, Cora; Ganter, Sofia; Perov, Olga

Over the last years there has been an emerging normative debate on how the impacts of climate change do not only affect the environment but also have dire consequences for the enjoyment of basic human rights in vulnerable regions. A human rights-based approach to climate negotiations could improve the debate beyond a mostly scientific and technical discussion. This paper analyzes in a case study how human rights are actually articulated within international climate negotiations and what role they play in the international political debate on climate change. Through a first inductive analysis of state submissions and interview data collected at the 2nd session of the ADP during UNFCCC COP 19 we examine how state parties make use of human rights in international climate negotiations. The paper shows that despite the growing normative debate on the topic almost no parties refer to human rights directly in the actual climate negotiations. When human rights are mentioned, they are more likely to be articulated by state groups, they are often referred to in an indirect way, and non-binding rights are articulated more often than universally binding human rights. This shows that there is a clear gap between the normative debate and the political realities of the linkages of human rights and climate change.


Also Published In

Consilience: The Journal of Sustainable Development

More About This Work

Academic Units
Earth Institute
Published Here
December 9, 2015